Is Oakland the Hub of our Creative Revival These Days?
For years there have been individuals that I’ve seen around town who captured my imagination. This project, Drawn From the City, became an excuse to find out about their lives through interviews, documenting the cultural life-blood of the city. – Crystal Vielula
Occupation: What I strive to be is an artist, the way that I support that is that I sell vintage clothing online, and I do window merchandising for American Apparel.
How long have you lived in the city? Five years and I just moved away [to Oakland]. I moved to the city in a fanciful way, living in a Radical Faeries house and thinking everything in San Francisco is super open and free. The environment is changing and I have lost that creative feeling. I feel like the creativity in San Francisco is still here but it is very much overshadowed by what the city collectively finds more important. If you don’t have every kind of person here then the city is not going to be diverse, it’s not going to have murals and chalk drawings and pop-up shops because the people who create those things will not be able to afford to live here.
Favorite place in San Francisco: I really like the northwest corner, from the Golden Gate Bride to the Sutro Baths. It’s eroding and always changing. I feel like in our minds it is the end of the world, and as much as I can enjoy that, I try to.
Do you have a favorite neighborhood? I really like where I used to live – the Alamo Square/Haight area. It’s like an empty shell that could be refilled. Haight Street, where I work, is like a mall but the people and the environment give off a feeling that there are residual effects of love still in the street. I really like Buena Vista Park and Alamo Square and its views of the city. I just love the architecture in that area – there are Italian and French and American style Victorians, it’s like looking at beautiful cakes.
What is your performance inspiration? A lot is taken from sadness and frustration because there is so much I am processing and assessing in my environment around me. I feel like the healthiest way to vent things is through performance. In the beginning I was doing more drag but now I want to give you [the audience] a message or a complete feeling.
Style inspiration: Childhood. Referencing the happiest time in my life. I think a lot of people take themselves too seriously. Especially a person like me who is a political performer, I do things with a message, I think it’s important for me to balance out those very strong feelings by dressing childish and free.
How is relocating to Oakland? One week in Oakland I feel a revival of creativity. Oakland is becoming the new San Francisco in a way.
There is really nowhere else I would want to live in America but the Bay Area. I love the people’s charm, when you walk down the street people give you eye contact and tell you good morning. I think that even though there are things I complain about, the city and its changing environment, I would have to say out of anywhere in America this is my home.
Check back in next Tuesday for more Drawn from the City.
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